WHY GO BAREFOOT? A BEGINNER'S GUIDE
“ I am a full convert, Running without knee and hip pain, hiking and hill walking with no foot and knEE pain, and loafing also feels good. My previously bound up feet have begun to spread out, it’s a great sales ploy by VIVOBAREFOOT, because soon I won’t fit into normal shoes, so I will only buy theirs.”
Being barefoot is something that we can all see the benefits from. We’re strong believers that foot rehab is open to everyone, and it’s worth it!
Barefoot movement is not just about running and winning the next race. It's for everyone, every day and the best way to start is to simply take your shoes off, stand, walk and let gravity take its course.
When our feet are allowed to move naturally, all the muscles, ligaments and tendons become free to build strength and flexibility, helping to sustain a healthy foundation for movement.
The structure of the human foot is a biomechanical masterpiece, brilliantly prepared to absorb shock, support your body and guide skilful movement. So we do our very best to let it do its natural thing.
OUR SHOES OFFER NO SUPPORT
The trouble is, since the birth of jogging with fancy underfoot technologies in the 70’s, many of us have ended up unknowingly interfering with our feet doing what they do best. When we add padding and arch support, the foot can become weak – in essence, because it’s given the chance to be lazy. The body is astonishingly adaptive and efficient, and the feet are no exception, following that basic ‘use it or lose it’ principle. And the buck doesn’t stop there!
WE DON’T DO PADDING
Underfoot interference has another effect. It reduces the amount of sensory information available to your brain from the sensory receptors in your feet, making it harder to judge how to move skilfully and without causing injury. As a big clue to how important this sensory information is, there are as many nerve endings in your feet as there are in your hands! I.e. both your hands AND your feet are meant to be sending the brain a LOT of sensory input. Padding causes the usual sensory signals relating to impact that reach the brain from the foot to be muffled, and this can cause us to move in a way that we wouldn’t naturally.
A good example of this is how heavily we walk on our heels. When we’re barefoot we adapt each step to tread gently and smoothly absorb the impact of connecting with the ground. If we slammed our heel into the floor, our foot would send a message to the brain saying we’re creating too much impact, signalling that we should correct our movement. By contrast, if there’s a big bit of squishy material under there, we don’t get an accurate sensory representation of that impact. The padding makes sure that this doesn’t immediately hurt. BUT! There are long term implications of walking in a way that you wouldn’t naturally.
To us, this makes sense when you look at the cascade of joints that are altered by the position of the foot… knees, hips, lower back, shoulders, neck....
WE CREATE THE MINIMAL INTERFERENCE
Our sense of our body in relation to the ground and our surroundings (the scientific name for this is proprioception) can be altered when sensory feedback is interfered with, and this can have a knock-on effect from the feet upwards.
Take a look at this blog about the impact that a small lift to the heel can have > here.
By creating the minimal interference with foot-brain sensory circuitry, we maximise our propensity to move with balance, skill and ultimately prevent injury.
WE WANT YOU TO ENJOY HEALTHIER MOVEMENT
Is changing the way we connect with the ground changing the position of our entire body?
We think so.
Take a look at this video to see how differently we connect with the ground when there’s padding underfoot…
And what convinces us most is the huge volume of personal experiences that have been shared with us by people who have experienced huge changes from wearing minimal shoes.
Here are a couple of examples…
For even more insight, we’d also recommend having a read of this blog by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, who found barefoot was the key to overcoming chronic back pain > here.
EVERY VIVOBAREFOOT SHOE IS FOOT SHAPED
So far, we’ve covered all the barefoot basics. But there’s another big reason why we think you’d benefit from natural foot freedom.
The modern shoe industry has a tendency to make shoes that… aren’t shaped like real feet! Pop your foot on top of the vast majority of high street shoes, and you’ll be sure to notice that your toes sit wider than the shape of the shoe.
We’ve developed a culture that thinks that this is important for aesthetic reasons. But it’s quite literally altering the skeletal structure of the foot, cramping the toes towards each other.
Anyone who regularly wears pointed shoes will probably have noticed that their feet look… a little pointed! And in many cases, bunions can develop due to the unnatural strain on the big toe knuckle… which is painful to say the least.
What’s more, the spread of those toes (and especially the big toe!) is another vital player in natural, skilful movement. Balance, impact absorption and posture are all strongly connected to the toes doing their natural thing.
EACH DESIGN IS THIN, WIDE AND FLEXIBLE
Every pair of our barefoot shoes follows 3 key principles. Thin, Wide and Flexible.
The sole is thin, the toe box is naturally wide and foot-shaped, and the whole shoe is flexible. By doing this, we aim to create protection from cuts and the cold (plus a little extra grip!) whilst creating minimal interference with natural, healthy movement.
Leaving your feet free to enjoy all the benefits that barefoot freedom has to offer.
If you’re new to barefoot, be sure to ease in gradually. There’s a good chance that your feet will be a little weaker and less flexible than usual if you’ve been wearing cramped, rigid or cushioned shoes. Listen to your body and take time to gently build strength and flexibility. It may be a little achy at first, but listen to your body to understand your limits and find faith in the knowledge that your feet will thank you for it!
We’d thoroughly recommend giving our interactive Barefoot Journey guide a go > here..
If you have any questions, feel free to contact via social media for an expert response - @VIVOBAREFOOT